How to Plan a Long-distance Move

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Moving to the other side of town can be a very different experience from moving across the country -- or to a different country. If you're in for a big change of scenery, it pays to take stock of your situation sooner rather than later. A move to Alaska may seem exotic if you've never seen snow, but culture shock may have you racing back to the hot and humid South if you're not careful. Every area has something valuable to offer, but make sure you understand a locale's unique challenges by doing a little recon before you pack up the kids and hit the road.

We may come into the world naked, but we don't stay that way for long. From the moment we arrive, we start accumulating possessions. Some of them stay with us a lifetime, while others don't. One sure way to make your long-distance move a strategic disaster is to misjudge which items are keepers and which ones aren't. From packing smart to knowing what to pitch, let's take a look at a few strategies for implementing a long-haul move that won't make you wish you'd stayed put where life was dull but predictable. Don't cringe -- yet. Moving is an adventure. All you need is a reliable plan.



Planning a Long Distance Move

If you haven't cleaned your closets in a decade, don't panic. Perspective is everything. Think of those stacked and crammed artifacts as archaeological finds that will help reveal, and sometimes exorcise, your past. It probably isn't the labor that's making you apprehensive anyway, it's the time crunch. Start laying the groundwork today to make the actual moving part of your relocation go smoothly. These tips will help:

  • Know where you're going - If you're moving to a loft in the city, that extra bedroom set will just get in your way, and you can probably lose the cross-country skis, too. Taking your new digs into account will give you important information about what's sensible to take with you and what isn't. The available space, your new lifestyle and the weather will give you clues, too. If you have pets, you'll want to find out about state and city ordinances regarding inoculations, leash laws, and limits on the number or types of pets you can keep. Start gathering important details about schools, vehicle laws, the vagaries of insurance and even the bylaws for your housing complex.
  • Develop a system - You'll likely have items you want to keep, items you want to sell, stuff you want to give away and junk you want to trash. As you go through your belongings, organize them into these four categories. If you're packing your belongings yourself, you should also consider taking a hint from the professionals who pack for a living. They pack items a room at a time. That way, the unpacking will go easier on the other end. If you're looking for a frying pan when you get to your destination, at least you'll know it's in one of the kitchen boxes.
  • Apply the one-year rule - If you haven't used an item in a year, consider donating it to someone who will use it. Carting around those skinny jeans and the apple corer your aunt gave you last Christmas might seem like a good idea, but the truth is that you may never revisit either of those items, and paying to transport and store them is just wasteful.
  • Get help - You might have to mount a big move on your own, but getting professional help is the best way to go by far. Professional movers know how to pack and transport a houseful of belongings with a minimum of breakage and fuss. Make sure you understand the details, though. Knowing when your new residence will be available and getting your belongings there at the right time is important. Misjudging the delivery date could be an expensive mistake if you have to ask a mover to hold your items for a few days. Insist on written agreements with your new landlord and your mover; ask lots of questions, and read the fine print. Moving is full of small details, and getting them right will make your life easier.
  • Have a schedule - Time can get away from you when you're in the middle of a move, so put together a moving calendar or organizer to make sure you stay on target. Where moving is concerned, some chores are time sensitive and others, like packing the Christmas ornaments, can be done well in advance. Decide which is which, and make yourself a handy cheat sheet.


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